Smoked haddock cakes with wilted watercress and beurre blanc


For the haddock cakes
  • 500ml/17½fl oz milk
  • 700g/1lb 8oz smoked haddock fillets
  • 450g/1lb floury potatoes (such as King Edward or Maris Piper), peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 free-range eggs, 2 hard-boiled, 2 beaten
  • 4 tbsp capers, drained, roughly chopped
  • 60g/2½oz gherkins, roughly chopped
  • 75g/3oz shallots, peeled, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp fresh flatleaf parsley
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 50g/2oz plain flour
  • 75g/3oz dried breadcrumbs
  • vegetable oil, for deep frying
For the wilted watercress and spinach
  • 50g/2oz butter
  • 125g/4oz mixed watercress and baby spinach leaves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the beurre blanc
  • 25g/1oz shallots, peeled, chopped
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp white wine
  • 110g/4oz cold butter, chopped
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives

Preparation method

  1. For the haddock cakes, bring the milk to a simmer in a heavy-based pan and add the haddock fillets. Cook over a low heat for 3-4 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through, then remove from the pan and set aside to cool slightly. Discard the milk.

  2. Remove the skin from the haddock fillets and flake the flesh into a bowl, discarding any bones.

  3. Meanwhile cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water for 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain, then return the potatoes to the pan and cook for one minute to drive off any excess moisture. Pass the potatoes through a ricer or mash well in a bowl. Mix the flaked fish into the mashed potatoes.

  4. Peel and chop the two hard-boiled eggs and stir into the fish and potato mixture. Add the capers, gherkins, shallots and parsley to the bowl and mix well to combine. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  5. With slightly damp hands, divide the mixture into eight equal portions and shape each portion into a small cake. Dredge each cake in the flour, then dip into the beaten eggs and then roll in the breadcrumbs to coat. Place the fish cakes onto a plate, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for one hour, or until set.

  6. Half-fill a deep, heavy-based pan with vegetable oil and heat to 180C/350F, checking the temperature using a digital thermometer. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.) Fry the fish cakes in small batches for 3-4 minutes, turning them over halfway, until golden-brown and cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

  7. For the wilted watercress and spinach, heat the butter in a frying pan until foaming, then fry the watercress and spinach for 1-2 minutes, or until wilted. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  8. For the beurre blanc, place the shallots, white wine vinegar and white wine into a non-reactive pan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the volume of the liquid has reduced to one tablespoon. Gradually whisk in the butter until well combined and the mixture is thickened. Strain into a bowl, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir in the chives.

  9. To serve, divide the wilted watercress and spinach among four serving plates and top each serving with two fish cakes. Drizzle the beurre blanc around the plate.

James Martin recipes from Saturday Kitchen Best Bites

1-2 hours preparation time

30 mins to 1 hour cooking time

Serves 4

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